Remember that bobsled to baseball hell without a brakeman the Yankees couldn’t halt last week?
They have swapped it for an escalator headed to heights recently thought impossible.
Backed by a season-high seven homers, three by reserve catcher Kyle Higashioka and two from DJ LeMahieu, Gerrit Cole dominated the Blue Jays on the way to a 13-2 victory Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium.
After hitting six homers in Tuesday night’s 20-6 thumping of the Blue Jays the Yankees continued to pound the visitors’ pitching staff.
It was the Yankees’ seventh straight victory (tied for the longest such streak of the season) and pushed them to within three lengths of the AL East-leading Rays, who lost to the Nationals. The three-game deficit is actually four since the Rays won the season series against the Yankees.
With 11 games remaining the Yankees hold a 1½-game advantage over the Blue Jays in the race for second place which brings an automatic bid to the postseason tournament.
Higashioka had seven homers in 178 big league at-bats entering the game. He homered in the third, sixth and seventh. His fly ball to the left-field warning track in the fourth almost made it out as well.
Higashioka became the 23rd player to hit three or more homers in a regular-season game in Yankee history. Among the members of that club Higashioka joined are Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle and Alex Rodriguez.
Gehrig is the only Yankee ever to swat four homers in one game.
Luke Voit pushed his MLB-leading homer total to 19 with a three-run blast in the four-run sixth. Clint Frazier homered leading off the fourth.
Lost in the home-run flurry was Aaron Judge’s return from the injured list. Playing in his first game since Aug. 26 he went hitless in four at-at-bats and struck out in the first three at-bats.
The Blue Jays had TBA listed where Thursday night’s starter belonged before the latest shellacking. They eventually named right-hander Chase Anderson, which makes you wonder who he ticked off.
Should the Yankees have the best record of the three second-place clubs they would play host to a best-of-three first round of the postseason at Yankee Stadium, where they are 20-7 compared to 8-14 outside of The Bronx. They were a game back of the Twins for the fourth seed going into Wednesday night’s action.
In his second straight impressive outing, Cole didn’t allow a hit until Jonathan Villar opened the sixth with a double to right and scored from third on a wild pitch.
Cole went seven innings, gave up a run, three hits and struck out eight. He is 6-3 with a 3.00 ERA. In his last two outings Cole is 2-0 with a 0.64 ERA and has worked with Higashioka behind the plate in each of them.